Arlington First City in Texas to Achieve What Works Cities Certification
By Office of Communication
Posted on April 24, 2019, April 24, 2019

City of Arlington Achieves What Works Cities Certification

Today, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced that Arlington is one of seven cities to achieve 2019 What Works Cities Certification, a national standard of excellence in city governance. What Works Cities Certification rates how well cities are managed by measuring the extent to which city leaders incorporate data and evidence in their decision-making.

Arlington, which is proud to have achieved Certification at the silver level, is the first Texas city recognized for implementing data policies and practices designed to improve residents’ lives. Since 2017, the City has worked to both use and make data more accessible in order to better connect its residents with services, create efficiencies, determine community priorities and how to allocate resources, and spur collaboration with the private sector.

“Data helps city leaders understand problems and measure success, and it helps citizens hold government accountable for meeting public needs on all the big challenges we face — from promoting health and safety to fighting climate change,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City. “Congratulations to all the cities that earned certification this year. Their efforts are improving lives locally and setting an example that can spread nationally.”
In addition to forming a multi-departmental Data Governance and Innovation team and adopting an open data policy based on citizen feedback, the City of Arlington:

• Continues to develop its Open Arlington portal, which currently offers 39 data sets ranging from interactive maps to water use by ZIP code. 

• Places an emphasis on incorporating data in articles, videos and social media to communicate with the public on issues ranging from the City’s budget to the performance measures of individual departments or programs.

• Adapts to rapidly changing technology to answer common questions that the public may have through the tools, such as smart phones or smart speakers, that people rely on for information. For example, residents can download the City of Arlington Alexa skill to access information about a growing number of topics through their Alexa-enable devices. Residents can also find real-time updates on street, water and draining projects through the Street Tracker app

• Seeks opportunities to partner with researchers, developers, students and entrepreneurs to explore real-world applications of city data that could solve community issues, provide targeted services or spur investment within Arlington.

“We are proud to join a very small number of cities across the country who have achieved What Works Cities Certification,” City Manager Trey Yelverton said. “The taxpayers invest a lot in various technology solutions that are intended to help us manage our resources effectively. Whether we are talking about our streets, our water, or resources to keep our community safe, we are using data to drive our decision-making. We are using the tools that are given to us to maximize the results for our citizens and we are going to continue to do so.”

One of the accomplishments Arlington was recognized for was using data to identify and secure federal funding for an innovative solution for our residents’ and visitors’ public transit needs through a partnership with the rideshare company Via. More than 156,000 trips have been made using Arlington’s affordable on-demand Via rideshare service since it began in December 2017.

Click here to read the What Works Cities profile on Arlington. 

“We are proud to celebrate Arlington and the other certified cities and recognize their achievements for others to learn from,” said Simone Brody, Executive Director of What Works Cities. “These well-managed cities are better solving the problems facing their communities and addressing residents’ needs. They are stretching every dollar by using data to set priorities, budget effectively, and ensure investments are yielding desired results. They are also putting data at the core of their efforts to prepare for future challenges.”

What Works Cities Certification evaluates how well cities are managed and how city leaders incorporate data and evidence in their decision-making. Cities are evaluated on factors such as whether they have dedicated staff responsible for helping departments use data to track their progress; whether contracts are awarded based on past performance; meetings are focused on numbers; key datasets are open to the public; and whether there is transparency both in the goals set and the progress toward achieving them. Cities must demonstrate that they have policies in place to manage the risks associated with sophisticated data practices. The program also requires that cities publicly communicate their use of data best practices and engage community stakeholders in the process. 

The Certification program launched in April 2017, and U.S. cities with populations of 30,000 and higher are eligible to participate. Cities are awarded silver, gold, or platinum Certification depending on their level of data sophistication. The Certification program was developed by a team of experts in close consultation with the What Works Cities Certification Standard Committee, which comprises leaders in the field from more than a dozen organizations that support cities. What Works Cities experts, along with members of the Standard Committee, then join in-person site visits to the highest-performing cities to determine the city’s Certification level. The seven 2019 certified cities were identified from nearly 90 assessments. 

From left: Strategic Initiatives Senior Officer Alicia Winkelblech, Communications Coordinator Susan Schrock, Assistant City Manager Jennifer Wichmann, Senior Budget Analyst Devon Waters and City Manager Trey Yelverton

About Bloomberg Philanthropies:

Bloomberg Philanthropies works in 480 cities in more than 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2018, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $767 million. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

About What Works Cities:

What Work Cities, a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative, helps cities use data and evidence to tackle their most pressing challenges and improve residents’ lives. The initiative’s What Works Cities Certification program is the first-of-its-kind national standard of excellence in city governance that evaluates how well cities are managed and whether cities have the right people, processes, and policies in place to put data and evidence at the center of decision-making. Through the initiative’s expert partners, cities around the country are receiving support, guidance and resources to succeed. For more information, visit whatworkscities.org.

 

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